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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

A Return To Rutland Water - on 1st September, 2016

If all goes according to plan, this post will contain fewer images than my previous long-winded post, and far fewer words!

On Thursday 1st September I had another afternoon out with pal, John, and as I'd missed my turn of duty the previous week (incapacitated by a bug!), and we'd not been to Rutland Water the previous week, it was time for me to make a visit.

We arrived at Lyndon to find Lyndon Manager, Paul Stammers, returning from the store room with top-ups for the refreshment shelves at The Visitor Centre. Paul told us that he'd not long ago seen the Long-tailed Duck  that has been at Rutland Water for a while, and it was by Teal Hide - the closest hide to The Centre. Paul accompanied John and I to Teal Hide, but five minutes of scanning didn't reveal the duck. We all three were having a good natter when I saw something out of the corner of my eye - the L-t Duck was right in front of the hide! By the time that the others turned to see it it had dived, but it was soon up again, albeit at a greater distance. It quickly made its way out of site to the east of the hide. This species is a rare winter visitor in this region, and virtually unheard of in the summer!

Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) (male) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
At the other end of the rarity scale, this Black-headed Gull came sauntering by, shrieking as it did so!

Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
We hung around for quite a while, hoping the duck would re-appear but eventually gave up and made for Shallow Water Hide, stopping at the other hides on the way, and also looking for dragons and damsels.

Common Blue damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (in tandem) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
Common Blue damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (in mating 'wheel') - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
I was delighted to see a male Brown Hawker come in and perch high up in a hawthorn tree. Brown Hawkers are not the easiest dragonflies to photograph, and males seem to be particularly difficult to find perched.

Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) (male) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
A Ruddy Darter was extremely obliging.

Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) (male) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
John and I spent some time trying to photograph a Hornet. I reckon that I've seen five times as many Hornets in UK in the past four weeks as I have in total in all the rest of my 70 years! This lousy image is the best that I could manage - I hope John fared better!

Hornet (Vespa crabro) (with insect prey) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (female) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
We arrived at Shallow Water Hide to find that the water really was shallow - shallower than I've seen it for a few years! It didn't amount to much more than a sea of mud and weed, with a stream running through it. Little of interest was seen and I entertained myself with trying for a flight shot or two.

Greylag Goose (Anser anser) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) (immature) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
With little going at Shallow Water Hide on we decided to make our way slowly back to Teal Hide to try and locate the L-t Duck, stopping to take a few photos along the way.

Speckled Wood (Parage aegeria) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
John had wandered on ahead of me when I happened to spot a trio of Migrant Hawkers high up on a branch. I called John back and he just arrived in time to take some shots before they departed one-by-one in quick succession. Here's a couple of images that I managed, but they were a bit distant!

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) (male) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
Further on towards the Visitor Centre, a Red Admiral was basking on the path.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
The Visitor Centre had been long closed by the time we reached it, so we continued on to Teal Hide. We didn't see the Long-tailed Duck again, but it was entertaining watching the Common Terns that were finding a bumper harvest of fish. The terns won't be around for much longer, before they migrate to the southern hemisphere.

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) - Rutland Water, Lyndon Reserve
Soon it was time to go, so that we could spend the rest of the evening returning at leisure on our usual owling route - we'd blasted straight through to Rutland Water on the outward journey.

We stopped for our picnic evening meal by my Little Owl Site No.34, and this is where we saw our only owl of the day - what appears to be a well-advanced juvenile in the old nest opening, in the gathering gloom. It looks as if the adult birds have left this site, leaving at least one juvenile to fend for itself. It seems to occupy the entrance to the old nest cavity, but it looks as if access any further into the cavity is blocked by sticks left by the Jackdaws that took over the nest earlier in the year. The opening is too high up for us to access and clear, so we'll just have to wait and see what transpires, whilst trying to find where the adults have gone.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) (well-advanced juvenile?) - my LO Site No.34
Thus ended a most enjoyable afternoon and evening, with the real highlights for me being the Long-tailed Duck and the multiple Migrant Hawkers.

I'm not sure what my next post will be, but probably either a primarily 'birdy' post, or back to the dragons.

Thank you for dropping by!


  1. Seeing that Long-tailed Duck reminds me that the year is rapidly advancing, Richard, and that soon we will have them in abundance on Lake Ontario as they move in for the winter. And the kids are back at school today, so for most of us fall has begun no matter what it says on the calendar. Where did this year go?

    1. It's a frightening aspect of advancing years, David, that the speed at which years pass seems to rise exponentially!

      Although I shall miss the birds and insects of the summer, these days I have plenty to look forward to in the winter as well - but the cold insn't one of those things!

  2. Hey Richard! How nice sightings you've seen! Sea Goose flight picture is quite incredible. Here you do not appear correctly owls! Not only the fireplace owl this year! Best regards

    1. Thank you, Anne, but sorry, I did not understand your comment about the owls.

    2. Sorry, Richard, I use google translate! we have not seen any owls in here in this year, and we will not see them for a while in here, i think;-)

    3. Please don't apologise, Anne! I am extremely impressed, and grateful, that you write your comments in English - thank you. However, google translate has its failings - and sometimes they are very amusing! Thank you for new translation - as good as perfect!

  3. Hi Richard, We had a super afternoon and some good images to show for it, my Common Tern images were nothing like as good as yours, and also your Migrant Hawker images are crackers.
    See you Thursday, either on duty or an afternoon out. John

    1. Thank you, John. A lot of the time, with our sort of 'opportunist photogrpahy', It's luck of the draw how images will turn out, particularly with macro images.

      I'll see you tomorrow. Not sure if we will be on duty as Maya left yesterday, and so 33 will be off very soon. Knowing my luck I'll already be on my way there when I get the call to stand down!

  4. This is a super post Richard,love the long-tailed Duck great views,not seen one for a while,also like your flight shots,which are stunning,I'm still trying to perfect that part.
    Two stars are your Migrant Hawkers and the Brown Hawker,which we've only seen in flight,brilliant finds.

    1. Thanks, John. This is the first time I've seen a L-t Duck in the summer, as far as I can remember.

      Flight shots do tend to be a bit hit and miss with me, with 'miss' being the more common result. I do try and practice as much as possible even if the subject is commonplace - anything that moves serves the purpose!

      We're very lucky in these parts as Brown Hawker and Migrant Hawker, together with Commnon Darter are quite plentiful at this time of year - closely followed by Ruddy Darter. However, finding a perched male Brown Hawker is rather unusual, and (for some reason) I rarely see female Migrant Hawkers!

  5. Some great photos here and I love the Greylag Goose in flight. My favourite tho' is still the Little Owl, I was listening to them yesterday, but they are on someone else's property so I can not get near them. Wish my French was better, I might be able to explain what I wanted if it was! I never see dragon flies around here, I need to find time to go and sit near some water. I am sure though that the days are getting shorter and I just can't keep up anymore. How did I ever find time to go to work before retirement? Keep well Diane

    1. Thank you, Diane.

      You'll have to find someone to act as a go-between for you with those Little Owls!

      You don't need to be beside a large expanse of water to find dragonflies. Often a small shallow pond with plenty of vegetation at the margins will do, or a small stream in the country.

      I know what you mean about time in retirement! Best wishes - - - Richard

  6. I personally loved the length of the last blog Richard. I found the LTD that was in Northamptonshire a couple of winters ago incredibly good at diving for long times and the way they sit low in the water made it difficult to spot. It is pretty unusual to see one this early, perhaps an indicator of the summer we've had.
    Great Tern shots
    p.s. I'll post soon just been very hectic

    1. Thank you, Doug. Knowing me, there will probably be a long post anytime soon!

      Looking forward to your next post!

  7. Lovely seeing the LT duck but I never thought it would be at Rutland Water. I always thought they were at sea. Gorgeous shots of the butterflies and the birds in flight. I have been to Rutland only once many years a ago and it holds a special place in my heart.

    1. I'm really not sure why this duck is at Rutland Water, Margaret - it was still there yesterday. Rutland Water is a wonderful place, and I shall be visiting in winter, even though our Ospreys are now gone, and on their way to West Africa.

  8. Great set of pictures, thanks to you I have learnt to tell the difference between the Migrant Hawker and the Southern Hawker :-) The other thing I did not realise is that the dragonflies and the damselflies emerge at different times like the butterflies, and also the moths.

    1. Thank you, Linda. If I'm ahead of you with the dragonflies (and I'm not sure that I am!), it is only by one step! My problem is that I have difficulty retaining information these days, and tend to forget key identification points. ID points on Migrant and Southern Hawkers are now in my head - but wil probably have gone by the start of next year's season! If I came across a Common Hawker, I'd be back to the reference books!

      I'm very thankful that different species emerge at different times, as it helps give the opportunity to focus on a particular set of species at any one time, and gives something to look forward to as the season progresses.

      Don't be surprised if I'm down your way next year, as I haven't seen Golden Ringed Dragonfly for many years!

  9. Another wonderful (if short) post to enjoy! Those Migrant Hawkers are outstanding looking dragons! New to me. Good show on brilliant photos of the Long-tailed Duck! It certainly seems you had a wonderful day all around. You were out in Nature, enjoyed birds, dragons and good company.

    Life is good.

    We're still hoping to get back to our exploring soon. We hope you and Lindsay are enjoying a wonderful weekend!

    1. Thank you, Wally. It certainly was a rewarding day.

      I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the speedy resumption of your wildlife peregrinations

      Best wishes to you both - - Richard

  10. Hi Richard,
    It's fun to see your images parallel those of John!
    The 3 Migrant hawkers is a sight one can come across only at... migration time of course, but one must really look for them, it is rare to have the opportunity to take shots with several individuals together.
    Lovely bird pics in flight, it makes the images very lively!
    Enjoy your weekend and share warm hugs with Lindsay :)

    1. Thank you, Noushka. I was rather pleased to see the three mixtas together (saw two together last Thursday too), but I'd have given up that sighting for just a glimpse of one affinis! Was most impressed by your affinis images!

      Take good care - - - - Richard

  11. Hello Richard, that was a well rewarding day out. That Long tailed duck is amazing but that you could take a picture of the Brown Hawker is great. I have seen them coming by but never managed to take a photo of them. You are so Lucky. Also three Migrant hawkers together on a brache is something not to be seen very often. I am glad you at least discoverd and saw one young LO.
    With regards,

    1. I was very lucky that day, Roos. I also had a good day this last Thursday, when it was warm and sunny, but very windy, and I can give you a tip - under those conditions the dragonflies can still be found, but they spend more time perched, and the wind makes them perch low down where their perches don't get blown around so much.

      Have a wonderful week, and take good care - - - Richard

  12. Hi Richard,
    These are again very nice pictures of the water birds and many species of dragonflies and damselflies. The long-tailed duck is a wonderful observation and your photos that you have made them are pretty sharp and clear. The mating wheel Damsel is nicely mapped out and the brown glazier is great. The other pictures of dragonflies and butterflies are very beautiful.
    Your last ffoto of the owl in the tree is really fantastic. I enjoyed again.
    Greetings, Helma

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Helma.


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